I’ve heard the idea a lot lately, that people who are parents can’t also be actively engaged in making positive changes in what is happening in our country. I understand that; being a parent is a big job. You are helping guide another human being on their journey to discover themselves, and discover their own humanity. That is a lot of work!
However for parents, family members, educators, and those who spend time around children I would argue that in many ways it is often times more inportant to stay on top of what is happening in the world right now. I’m a preschool teacher, with ten little kiddos under my care. I know how much it takes to take care of them, and still have any energy left at all. But, we need to help mold the world they will grow up in, just as much as we need to help them as they grow up.
Maybe we won’t be able to make it to every protest, or participate at sit-ins at our Senators’ offices, or some other methods of resistance. But in our movement to create a better world, I think a good way to support eachother and to support ourselves as we work is to think like this: “From each according to their ability, to each, according to their need.”
What does this look like for exhausted teachers and parents still wanting to throw a few metaphorical punches in the fight for equality? It looks like making calls to your Senators on your lunch break or while your kids are napping. It looks like writing to your Representatives, letters to the editor, or other important correspondence while you also spend time with your kids. Maybe they can even participate, depending on their age.
Recently, I ran into a former preschool student of mine, who is a radio news junky (she’s five years old) and she and her dad had been bonding by writing letters together to send to everyone from the Governor, to the POTUS, all of which she insisted on writing herself to practice her ABC’s and so that they would know it was her words.
Being engaged can also mean starting simple but important conversations with your kids about being kind, about how people can have different ideas or make different choices from us, or look different or dress different and that is part of what makes us all great. We get to meet new people who have new ideas, and have done things we may not have done. We need monitor ourselves and the way we speak, so that the ideas and words kids are learning are positive. We can be intentional about the ways we work to build community. We can start family or school traditions of volunteerism.
Part of building community with our kids, whether they are actually our children, or our students, or our friends’ kids, or children in our community is helping them to understand concepts like sharing. And making sure we understand it. One great thing I have learned as an Early Childhood Educator is that children actually thrive on explanations. So explain! Why do we share? Why do we take care of our things? Why do we take care of ourselves? Why do we take care of other people? This also provides a great opportunity for us as adults to contemplate these topics.
Make small changes to routines if your kids are old enough, to work in new ideas such as using democracy in the home or class to help them understand what it is, and using consensus model to help them understand that as well. Learning to understand different methods of group decision-making and different styles and philosophies is beneficial to us all.
Spark conversations as you help kids expand their vocabulary. Do you have anyone in your life that uses a “non-traditional” pronoun choice? Use that, and have a conversation with your child about equality, respect, or individuality. Help them to gain the vocabulary to treat others the way they want to be treated.
Help kids learn about and learn to access the many wonderful resources out there for them, such as public parks and public libraries. Help them to understand that these wonderful things are there for them to use, but there are also for everyone to use, and we need to take care of and protect these things. Help them understand the Earth is a wonderful place where we live, and it belongs to everyone. Help kids make connections from small to big.
If you notice a passion in them about something, help them learn more, and help them express themselves to people who have a say about those things. If you child or student really loves reading at the public library, see if they would like to write a letter and tell the city counsel. See if they would like to pick up cans to recycle and give the money to the library. Help them understand that they can make a specific difference in the world.
And when you are able, show them that you also care, and go and try to make whatever contributions matter to you, whether that is speaking at a town hall meeting or protesting, volunteering for non-profit. As adults whose lives are so near children the burden falls on us to model positive behavior so they know how to be human. And in these times, that is a very heavy burden indeed.
Lastly, as we remember the idea from above, “From each according to their ability, to each, according to their need”, we can remember that when we need help we can reach out to people in your support group, because in our resistance, and in our lives, no one can or should be expected to do more than their ability. Let’s be there for eachother, let’s be there for our kids, and lets make this world incredible.